GMO Blog Series, Part III: Environmental and Health Concerns

New GMO Graphic Enviromental

The third in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free (*NOTE – This is a re-posted series.)

In continuing with our blog series on GMOs, I aim to gather insight into the little acronym and why it evokes strong feelings (of something) for just about everyone. Again, some believe GMOs are harmless and necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven, and find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.

In last week’s post, I ran through the basics of The What, The How, and The Why GMO’s exist. I’m here again this week, and this time to discuss environmental and health concerns of biotech (GMO).

Environmental Concerns:
Having a degree in Environmental Soil and Water Science, it would be too facile to say here that many of my personal anxieties with GMO point to environmental. My main environmental uneasiness is that (1) not only are GMOs failing to meet their goals, but are actually augmenting the very issues they set out to address, and (2) …well, GMOs are very much unknown.

Not only is this technology new, but the data is largely non-existent or “protected” due to the fact that (1) risk assessments and subsequent results for a new GMO approval is conducted and provided by the company seeking the approval, and (2) due to current intellectual property laws, research rights on these products are reserved for the owner of that patent. Next week’s blog post is focused on these two points and the political landscape, so I won’t spend much time on that here.

I’m not sure who coined this phrase; it’s not my favorite, but it is accurate. Weeds that are target pests have evolved to become resistant and highly unmanageable. Glyphosate-resistant crops (i.e. “Roundup Ready” varieties) are GMO plants that are modified to enable them to live through an application of Roundup, but the weeds growing next to them in the field should not. Back when glyphosate-resistant crops were a new technology, those weeds did die. But today, they are not only surviving, they’re flourishing. They are flourishing in the fields and they’re flourishing in non-farm settings, and they can’t be killed as easily as they used to be. You know how we’re warned to only use antibiotics when our kids really need them, that an overuse could lead to a “super bug” that will one day not respond to antibiotics? Well, that’s what we have here today.

One of the very first touted benefits of GMOs was (and still is) “decreased use of pesticides,” but ag studies are now showing the complete opposite. In fact, with many GMOs (cotton, corn, and soybeans, for example), farmers are increasing their herbicide use by up to 25% annually (Benbrook) on GMO crops. In addition, farmers are turning to older, more toxic pesticides to pick up where Roundup can’t do the job any longer. Much of that has to do with the “superweeds” that we just discussed.

Health Concerns:
Without a control group and laboratory tests on humans, we really don’t know the effects that GMOs are having and will have on our bodies. There have been laboratory tests conducted on rats showing infertility, immune system and insulin regulation issues, and distressed gastrointestinal systems, among others. Farm animals that have grazed on GMO crops have experienced extreme health complications and even fatality. I cannot personally vouch for any of these tests or claims, and I continue to search for sound science. Please share with me reputable sources if you have them!

Having a gluten sensitivity and spending my creative time developing new Oh Baby Foods products for a wide audience, allergies are very often on my mind. So, when I think about the case of a gene from a Brazil nut being transferred into soybean DNA and causing an allergic reaction, I cringe…and I’m also thankful. This 1996 study led to the cancellation of a GMO project who’s goal was to take to market a nutritionally superior soybean, and in the testing process, a positive allergic reaction was found, which led to the absolute acknowledgement that GMOs can transfer allergenic proteins into crops. Knowing this last point is exactly what startles me and affirms my stance on not GMOs in baby food.

What health concerns concern you? Please share your thoughts. And come back next week when we look at the political landscape of GMOs.

Topics for GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? blog series, every Friday this October:
Friday 10/2/2015        Part I – GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday 10/9/2015        Part II – GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday 10/16/2015      Part III – GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday 10/23/2015      Part IV – GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday 10/30/2015      Part V – GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

Until next Friday,
Fran B. Free


Benbrook, D. (2012, September 28). Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2014, from

Genetically modified food controversies. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2014, from


GMO Blog Series, Part II: The What, The How, The Why

GMOs The What, The How, The Why

The second in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free (*NOTE – This is a re-posted series.)

In continuing with our blog series on GMOs, I aim to gather insight into the little acronym and why it evokes strong feelings (of something) for just about everyone. Again, some believe GMOs are harmless and necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven, and find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.

In last week’s post, I explained the reasons that Oh Baby Foods products do not contain GMO’s, and why I do not personally support them. I’m here again this week, and this time to run through the basics of what, how, why GMO’s exist.

The What
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal.

“But wait,” you say. “My grandpa used to save seed from his favorite garden plants and then cross breed them to make his tomatoes more drought resistant or less susceptible to fungus. So, this GMO thing has been around for a while?”

No, it hasn’t. This is completely different from conventional breeding that we humans have been doing for thousands of years. This GMO thing only begun in 1996. We’re not only talking about joining DNA of two different species, we’re talking about joining DNA from different kingdoms. These are two beings that would never ever join or reproduce in nature. Ever.

The How
So, how would one go about joining two beings from different kingdoms…such as a fish and a tomato? (Side note: just to keep you on the edge of your seat, we’ll closely follow one example in detail during our last blog post this month.)

Now, put on your scientist coat and your chef hat. There are basically three ingredients to any GMO recipe: (1) the gene with desirable traits (to be transferred), (2) the organism to put the gene into (target species), and (3) a vector to carry the gene into the target species’ cells.

Once you isolate and gather up those three ingredients, you’re ready to introduce them following these steps:

–  Make several copies of your isolated gene
–  Transfer the desired genes to the plant’s own genes {You’ve got three options for insertion (or transformation): (1) use a ‘gene canon’, (2) a soil bacteria, or (3) a material called protoplast.}
– Create a new plant from the genetically modified plant tissue
– Check that the inserted genes function as expected
– Check that the inserted gene appears in the plant’s progeny (seeds)

And that’s it. Simple. You’ve just created a brand new being. Congrats! We’ll learn how to get it approved for use via our part 4 blog post in this series GMOs: Political Landscape.

The Why:
The following is from Anastasia Bondar’s blog series entitled “The Promise of GMOs.” I highly recommend reading through this to learn her opinion on which of the promises have been delivered and which ones have not. She recites the following excerpt from the BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization) report, Healing, Fueling, Feeding: How Biotechnology Is Enriching Your Life:

Biotech (GMO) improves crop insect resistance, enhances crop herbicide tolerance and facilitates the use of more environmentally sustainable farming practices. Biotech is helping to feed the world by:

  • Generating higher crop yields with fewer inputs;
  • Lowering volumes of agricultural chemicals required by crops-limiting the run-off of these products into the environment;
  • Using biotech crops that need fewer applications of pesticides and that allow farmers to reduce tilling farmland;
  • Developing crops with enhanced nutrition profiles that solve vitamin and nutrient deficiencies;
  • Producing foods free of allergens and toxins such as mycotoxin; and
  • Improving food and crop oil content to help improve cardiovascular health.

Those are some big promises from a very young technology. Again, read through Anastasia’s blog to see how GMOs have delivered.

Topics for GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? blog series, every Friday this October:
Friday 10/2/2015        Part I – GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday 10/9/2015        Part II – GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday 10/16/2015      Part III – GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday 10/23/2015      Part IV – GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday 10/30/2015      Part V – GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

Until next Friday,
Fran B. Free

GMO Education. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2014.

Diaz, J., & Fridovich-Keil, J. (n.d.). Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). Retrieved October 8, 2014, from

How are GMOs Made? (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2014, from
How is it done? (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2014, from
Bodner, A. (2014, February 17). The Promise of GMOs. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from
Healing, Fueling, Feeding: How Biotechnology Is Enriching Your Life. (n.d.). Bio Technology Industry Organization.


GMO Blog Series, Part I: It’s Personal

GMOs It's Personal

GMOs: It’s Personal.

The first in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free (*NOTE – This is a re-posted series.)

Okay, so this tiny little acronym: “GMO.” You hear it mucho these days. It’s kinda big, right? You’re seeing The NonGMO Project symbol pop up on your fave snack brands lately. It’s a cute logo, with a butterfly and all. BUT, what the heck does it mean and how is it able to tug on the heartstrings of so many people? Some believe GMOs are harmless and necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven, and find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.

Being raised on a conventional farm, having two degrees in agriculture, and starting an organic baby food company, I can tell you that I am built on two (strongly) opposing views.

Starting a business of any kind is not without IMMENSE challenges and opportunities. One opportunity I have grasped with enthusiasm is being able to establish the core values of Oh Baby Foods to reflect the foundation of what I personally believe. This company is, by proxy, an extension of myself.

On that note, Oh Baby Foods became the very first baby food company in the world to Verify all of our products via The NonGMO Project. Right out of the gate, I personally drew a line in the sand. Yep, it’s personal.

Our products do not contain GMOs, and here’s why:

  • GMOs are too new to mess around with, not only for consuming, but also to present to    our natural environment,
  • I’m not yet convinced that GMOs will meet the stated goals of 
    • alleviating global hunger/malnutrition issues
    • increasing efficiency in agriculture, by immediate timing and decreased pesticide applications,
  • Babies and their immune systems are especially susceptible to unhealthy and foreign factors AND they are the ones that will inherit the world that we take care of today.

Writing is not in my job description as Mother & Founder at Oh Baby Foods. But every once in a while, I get a little chance to explore and express myself in word. In honor of NonGMO Month, I’ll be posting a new blog post each Friday in October.

This has been a goal of mine for a few years, so don’t hold back a “congrats” if you’re so inspired. I appreciate your thoughts, and encourage discussion.

Topics for GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? blog series, every Friday this October:
Friday 10/2/2015        Part I – GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday 10/9/2015        Part II – GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday 10/16/2015      Part III – GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday 10/23/2015      Part IV – GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday 10/30/2015      Part V – GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

Until next Friday,
Fran B. Free


WHAT IS GMO? Agricultural Crops That Have a Risk of Being GMO. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2014, from

JALONICK, M. (2014, May 9). What Is A GMO? Genetically Modified Foods Continue To Confuse Consumers. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from

Heit, J. (2012, July 12). Genetically Engineered Foods. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from

What are GMOs all about? – Golden Rice. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2014, from

I’m THAT Mom Are you?

oh baby foods, bay food, parenting, kindergarten

Let me tell you about my week. Monday & Tuesday it snowed. It snowed enough that school was cancelled on both of those days. I was glad though because the kids & I had hoped for snow & this was the first real snow. Also, now that my daughter is in kindergarten, I see her less. When I do see her, we are either rushing around or getting homework done. It’s rare to have time to just BE with her; to hear her heart & just play.


This meant that we got homework later in the week & believe it or not, in kindergarten, she gets a lot.  We did 2 pages of the homework the first night we got it. Then, Thursday night, my daughter was performing at a basketball game. She did some cheers & a cute little dance. She was fearless & sassy & it was so great, but it was something. We were busy. We got home just in time to get her ready for bed. We got up this morning & I realized that we had a WEEK of subtraction to accomplish!

I want you to understand now, I am the mom who is always running late. It is all I can do to get my daughter to school by 8am. Did I mention she has a 3 1/2 year old brother who is a wild maniac of a boy? Sweet as can be, but CRAZY. I am not one of those moms who is good at managing little kids on their way out the door. I’m the one who at some point in the chaos, freaks out on them with:  “Why can’t you just put on your shoes?!? Ahhhhh!” or “You have been in here 10 minutes, your teeth are not brushed. What in the WORLD are you doing in here?!? (She had been singing to herself in the mirror & practicing faces while she says certain phrases. Of course she is, right? Girls! I did the same thing when I was little. My poor mama).

So, at the thought of completing about 10 pages of subtraction at the kitchen table before getting to school, here’s what I decided to do: JUST PLOW THROUGH. That’s what we did. We just plowed through the work at the table while her little brother was running through the house like a monkey let loose from the zoo. It was getting closer & closer to 8 & I understood that 1 of 2 things were going to happen:

1) We were not going to finish the homework

2) We were going to be late

As a mom, what would you choose? I wasn’t sure what the best decision was. Also, I don’t know what your kid’s school is like, but when you take your child late to school at my daughter’s school, they ask you, “Why is she late?” Then you get to feel like the world’s worst mom & say something like, “I’m a mess. I don’t have it all together. I can hardly manage these 2 in the morning. Somebody HELP!!” Ok, that’s not really what I say, but that’s what I mean in that moment. What I really say is something like, “Hard getting these 2 out the door.” Then I smile at the office lady with a smile that begs for GRACE & understanding. This is hard right? Am i the only one? The WORST one? Sometimes it feels like that &, in those moments, I could really use a hug, some grace & some understanding.

Even if It is just hard for me & I’m the worst one, I love these kids so much & I try really hard to make the best choices for them. I care about the school & it’s rules. I know I am THAT mom, but I’m also this mom:

Oh Baby Foods, THAT Mom, parenting, kids, toddlers, kindergarten

Easy Heart Crayon Valentines & Printable

heart valentines, heart crayon valentines, kids, oh baby foods

I don’t know what kind of valentines you’re making at your house, but here is one more idea from us at Oh Baby Foods. If you’re like us, you have a million gazillion old broken crayons that your kids no longer like to use. We love the idea of re-using things. That’s why we love this DIY valentine.

– – –

Here’s what you need: 

Old broken crayons (or new ones you can break up)

A heart tin or silicone bakeware.

Double-sided mounting tape.

White (or light) card stock paper.

– – – –

So, preheat your oven to 250. Then, gather up your crayons & sort them by color.

heart crayon valentine, valentines day, vday, oh baby foods

Load them into your bakeware. Break them up smaller if need be (your kids will love to help you do this!)

oh baby foods, valentines day, day, kids

Cook for about 15 minutes. Your crayon pieces will have melted & you should be able to take a plastic knife (or some other object that you don’t mind getting wax on) to make a swirly design in your crayons as they cool (about 10 minutes).
heart valentines, crayon valentines, oh baby foods, kids

Finished crayons! You should be able to just pop them out if they’re cool enough or are using silicone. If you’re using something else, you may want to run the pan under cold water to help them pop out better.

heart crayons, heart crayon valentines, valentines day, vday

Now, we wanted it to be super duper easy for you, so we also made a printable; valentines to stick your heart crayons to! We recommend that you print them on card stock paper, so they’ll be sturdy. Just save the picture below & print.crayon valentines, heart crayons, oh baby foods

We used double-sided mounting tape to attach the crayons to the valentines. Glue dots & tape were not strong enough.

Here’s what we ended up with:

valentines day, day, oh baby foods, heart crayon


Have a the Happiest Valentine’s Day.

A Healthier Valentine

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Pinterest is full of all sorts of great homemade valentine ideas. We wanted to offer a healthier option & provide you with some printables. Just save the pictures & print them out (on card stock for best results).  Use a hole punch where you see the little black dots. You can then run a ribbon or string through there to attach to your pouches!

These are made to go with our pinkish Lavenberry pouches, but we’ll include some blank ones, so you can write your own & a sheet of generic valentine phrases you could use as well. ENJOY!Lavenberry, Oh Baby Foods, baby food, valentines, DIY, homemade


heart valentine printable, oh baby foods, baby food, valentines day

vaentines, homemade valentines, kids, baby food, oh baby foods, organic, nongmo

Clean Eating with Children

clean eating

I asked my friend Amy, “How do you eat clean with children?” Here’s what she had to say:
– – –
Healthy eating can be tricky with children if not down right gravity defying. If it wasn’t important we wouldn’t all be trying so hard to do it. Am I right?? Or am I right? Right? Right?? (sorry, just watched Groundhog Day.) Over the years, I’ve had lots of success and lots of super frustrated (read tearful) dinners. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

Make it normal.
This is not a veggie smoothie with kale hidden inside. I know many have success with the sauce-of-many-colors, but for me, I am more of a “This is kale. It’s good for you. Eat it”. Now, for the youngsters, it was a little dicey; maybe only a few bites at first (I’ll get to my secret weapon later). They now eat kale and, although they love their potatoes, they will eat it without complaint.

Another thing that I’ve done successfully is teaching my children about food: Where does it come from? Why do we want to eat it? (Especially vs other foods that they may be asking for ). It’s been a great success for us as a family. Even with our meat. What is this meat? What animal does it come from? What does this animal eat? etc.

So, you ready for a small secret weapon I love? Chocolate covered bananas. We have made frozen chocolate covered bananas for a long while. We also buy them from trader joes. Two little slices of frozen banana delight has staved off many a dinner time fiasco. Believe me.

Tips for Eating Clean


fran free, oh baby foods, clean eating, organic, nongmoThe topic of clean eating is a hot one. We want to offer the best possible nutrition for our family, but it can be complicated & we’re busy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some tips from a pro? That’s exactly why I interviewed Fran Free, the owner of Oh Baby Foods, to get her tips on eating clean.

1) What advice do you have for someone who is just starting to learn about eating clean?

When I think about “clean” eating, I think about food on a very basic level. I envision a sweet potato. It’s whole, it’s bright orange (which means its chock full o’ vitamins), and its pretty delicious. Step 1): Take that ingredient and think about the different shapes you can make it. Step 2): Think about lightly spicing it up. Step 3): Think about the different ways to cook/prepare it. Now, with each of those steps envision those nutrients and how your body needs them; think about how to preserve them, make them fun and beautiful, and use them to their full potential. Keep in mind nutrition and aesthetics.

For example, a sweet potato.

Step 1): cut it into sweet potato fries

Step 2): toss with coconut oil and herbs (like rosemary) and a touch of salt

Step 3): bake them in the oven.

Another example, green beans.

Step 1): wash and snap off the ends,

Step 2): toss with olive oil and herbs (like dill or mint) and a touch of salt

Step 3): steam them.

Another example, snack time for kids. Step 1) cube some organic cheese, half some strawberries, Step 2): congrats, just skip this step, and Step 3): stack them on a skewer for the kids to eat immediately (or later).

2) What tips have you learned that make it easier on a mom of young children?

Focus on the fun shapes! We don’t make separate meals for kids and adults at our house. We all eat the same things. Sometimes fun shapes are needed to get over that hump of trying something new or when we sit down with kids who have skipped nap time or are feeling particularly cranky. It’s amazing what happens to a full plate of food when you cut it up and stick it all on skewers. I also use little flags and umbrellas.

3) What are some ways to save money on the higher priced items?

Three things:

(1) Buy in bulk when it’s available.

(2) Go for the organic whole chicken and make several meals out of it. We get up to four family meals out of it, ending with bone broth soup, which keeps us healthy in the winter.

(3) Also, shop by the EWG’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen. You may be spending more money on something that is organic, when its not a crop that really requires a lot of fertilizers or pesticides or who’s seed is even developed as a GMO, such as an avocado or many herbs. You may also be buying something that is not organic, that you really really really should. Strawberries, peaches, and spinach are examples.

4) Where do you go for clean recipes?

Eating is a job that involves the whole body, especially the eyes. I’m not making anything unless it’s pretty, so I spend time on Google images and Pinterest.I rely on Martha Stewart for basic foundational recipes, but often substitute the empty calorie ingredients for more nutrient-dense ingredients. I love Tasting Table for when I have extra time and need a creativity outlet, usually for date night with my hubby. Don’t go there looking for healthy recipes, but rather fun and clean, with whole foods.

5) Any tips for kid-friendly clean eating?

Again, go for fun shapes, flags, skewers, anything that turns a normal meal into an impromptu festival where utensils aren’t allowed. We use basic, minimally-cooked whole foods, and add herbs for taste. We stay away from hot spice with our kids, but they love complex flavors as long as they recognize the main ingredient. My two most-used pieces of kitchen equipment are the food processor (to hide sautéed kale and mushrooms) and mini-muffin tins (we make “poppers” out of sautéed veggies, leftover rice, chicken bone broth, pureed butternut squash, etc).

– – –

Great tips! Hope these serve as a good start. We’re love to hear from you! What tips do you have? What works?

If You Only Do Four Things

four things, mom, kids, babies, working mom, oh baby foods, organic, nongmo

This one life we have goes by too quickly. Our life gets filled up with papers, appointments, meetings, obligations, bills, stress, so much. We struggle to find peace & balance; quiet & stillness in the chaos. Let’s make things less complicated, ok?

Just stop.  Put down everything & let’s get back to the essential, life-giving things.

With that in mind, I propose some simplification. If you can only do four things for yourself as a mom to keep balance; to keep from running yourself into the ground with all of the crazy…make sure you do these 4 things:

#1: REST, get sleep, nap, pause for peace. Give yourself the chance to be refreshed, if only for a few moments. Take the chance to rest when you have it.

sleep, rest, oh baby foods, mom


#2: EAT CLEAN. Eat foods that bring nourishment to your tired mama body. Hydrate. Choose organic, non-GMO, locally grown foods. Strong body. Energetic mama.CLEAN EATING, ORGANIC, NONGMO, GMOS, HEALTHY, MOMS, OH BABY FOODS



 Even it means, strapping the baby on your back, get out there and enjoy the beauty that is our world. It’s like vitamins to your soul. You need this.

OUTSIDE, get outside, oh baby foods, organic, moms, get out

#4: HAVE FUN: LOVE your life & play.  Really! Get together with your friends, have date nights with your partner, get SILLY with your kids! LAUGHTER is the best medicine & all that. Don’t waste precious moments by stressing & busy-ness. Be present in your own life.

fun, mom, fun mom, oh baby foods, baby food, organic

Gifts for Toddlers You Can Make Yourself

christmas. last-minute, handmade, kids, toddlers


If you’re like us, you MIGHT get a wild hair the week before Christmas & decide you’re going to make something for your children for Christmas.  So, if that’s the case, we’ve rounded up some really cute, fun & fairly easy ideas.

1) Travel Art Folio

We actually have one of these & it’s super helpful when you’re at a restaurant, on a plane or need to take your littles somewhere they might get bored. Click on the picture to check out the tutorial.

kids, toddlers, handmade, christmas

Lots of Pink Here!

2) Snowflake Frozen-esque Ornament

If you didn’t want it to be an ornament, you could attach it to her stocking, to a present, to a pillow or add it to a hat, backpack, bow or shirt.  The possibilities are endless!

kids, frozen, craft, ornament, xmas, christmas, Elsa, Disney

Disney Family

3) Photo book

Love this idea!  If you have time, totally consider making one of these. Fun keepsake as well!

kids, babies, toddlers, picture book, handmade, gift

Joyful Abode

4) Their very own garden

I am actually going to make this for my kids because it’s so awesome.  They need it.  So so precious.

kids, toddlers, craft, gift, handmade, garden, felt

A Beautiful Mess

5) Personalized Board Book

This is similar to the idea above, but it’s a fun reuse of an old board book. Such a cute idea.


6)  Hand-sewn Matching Game

I love this idea.  It would be pretty easy to whip up if you’re handy with a sewing machine.  You could even do a felt & yarn version of that worked better for you.  Lots of different ways you take it.

christmas, kids, toddlers, hand-made, last-minute, xmas

The Purl Bee

Whatever you decide to do, hope you have the merriest of Christmas seasons!christmas, babies, oh baby foods